Michigan GOP official refuses calls to resign while continuing to publicly use n-word

A Republican official in Leelanau County, Mich., is rejecting calls for his resignation after he used the n-word at a public meeting and is also refusing to stop using the racist language. 

Leelanau County Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle used the racial slur during a diatribe about why he refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Well, this whole thing is because of them n-----s in Detroit,” Eckerle said at a public meeting Thursday, according to The Washington Post and the Leelanau Enterprise newspaper. 

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Road Commission Chairman Bob Joyce rebuked his colleague, but Eckerle, who was elected in 2018, continued, accusing the Black Lives Matter movement of “taking the country away from us.”

“I can say anything that I want. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us,” Eckerle said.  

Joyce later told the Leelanau Enterprise that "there's just no room for that kind of language here” and that he “won't tolerate any kind of racism in our meeting room or in our organization.”

Eckerle’s comments came the same week Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCoronavirus lockdowns work Michigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D) declared racism as a public health crisis in the state.

Eckerle doubled-down with his use of the racial slur during an interview with a local public radio station, saying it “is not racism” to use the word. 

"I don’t regret calling it an n----r,” Eckerle told Interlochen Public Radio. “A n----r is a n----r is a n----r. That’s not a person whatsoever.”

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State Rep. Jack O’Malley (R ), who represents the county Eckerle was elected in, announced Thursday that he spoke with Eckerle and asked him to resign. 

“He confirmed to me he did use the racist slur. After some discussion I asked Mr. Eckerle to resign. He refused,” O’Malley said in a statement on Facebook.

The Leelanau County administrator, Chet Janik, told Up North Live that because Eckerle is an elected official, and not a county employee, they cannot do much to discipline him.